Business is facing unprecedented period of change, says Andrea Wood
As ever-evolving technology and advancements in artificial intelligence continue to disrupt established businesses, Telus Communications Inc. is staying ahead of the game with a major growth strategy. The legal department, led by chief legal and governance officer, Andrea Wood, is responding to the shifting environment by supporting mergers and acquisitions to open up new business opportunities for the organization. In one major acquisition, Telus acquired home security business ADT Canada in a $700 million transaction in October 2019. The acquisition not only expands Telus’ security business, but also enables the organization to provide home health monitoring for elderly citizens.
“Our business, like many others in this economy, is facing an unprecedented period of change as a result of technology,” says Wood who has been with Telus for seven years. “We are seeing technological and social changes driven by the disruption that technology and AI are bringing. One of the things the legal department is doing to help Telus respond is supporting significant volumes of M&A activity.”
Under her lead, the cross-enterprise team of around 50 lawyers, paralegals and support staff is involved in every area of the business, and regularly drives M&A opportunities to enable growth. Wood’s team supports the business units that have been created as a result of this M&A activity while continuing to work towards further acquisitions and business expansion plans in 2020. While Wood and her team rely extensively on external counsel for support in M&A, litigation and complex matters such as competition law, legal support is primarily provided in-house.
In addition to running the legal and corporate governance teams, Wood is active in supporting a number of Telus’ social purpose initiatives. Among her responsibilities, she serves as global executive sponsor for Connections, Telus’ affiliate group that aims to promote the advancement of women, as well as supporting diversity and inclusivity within the organization.
“I’m working very actively to ensure that our public disclosures shine a brighter light on Telus’ incredible record in the area of social purpose,” she says.
Prior to joining Telus, Wood’s experience includes a 16-year stint at entertainment giant Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. where she ultimately served as executive vice president and general counsel. She briefly worked in private practice before joining start-up wireless carrier Wind Mobile as chief legal officer.
“I like the close integration of business and law which you don’t get so much in private practice,” says Wood of her decision to return to an in-house role. “I find the law interesting when it us being used to support the creation and completion of business objectives. Whatever Telus is doing, I’m working with my colleagues and business units to enable that.”
Among her goals for 2020, Wood is creating a score card for her team to outline all major strategic objectives. These will include new ways to enable the team, and objectives relating to the implementation of technology and knowledge-management.
“Each lawyer will have a development plan and objectives relating to his or her own expertise and leadership skills, so we ensure that our lawyers are constantly learning,” she says.